[00:00] Nick the Tooth’s Gorilla Coffee/Kimera Koffee
[01:07] Organifi Green Juice
[02:06] Cricket Protein Powder Bars
[03:36] Kifaru.net discount
[05:53] All about Aron Snyder
[09:37] The Race Aron’s training for
[11:59] The “Sport” of Hunting
[14:52] A Little on Aron’s History
[19:15] Aron’s anabolic supplementation
[28:16] Aron’s fighting stint
[31:34] How Aron lose weight
[35:05] Better supplements available today like amino acids, ketones
[36:12] Aron’s experiences outdoors
[37:28] The time Aron fell in a river/Wim Hof breathing technique
[41:10] How to load up a pack and to fit really well
[45:39] Pack Terms
[47:21] How the lifting strap works
[48:37] Why Kifaru packs cost a lot
[52:32] Aron’s must-haves items in a pack
[59:55] What Aron uses for shelter
[1:03:02] Aron’s cool photos/Aron’s Instagram page
[1:08:46] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield here. Ever heard of Nick the Tooth’s Gorilla Coffee? I bet you haven’t. It kinda flies under the radar. So here’s how you make it: you get your coffee, and brew your coffee, and then you add three tablespoons of coconut oil, two tablespoons of almond butter, one tablespoon of maca root, and a pinch of stevia to taste. Whether you’re a man, or you’re a woman, it will make you operate like a gorilla for hours.
So I got this recipe from one of today’s sponsors, Kimera Koffee, one of my favorite coffees because it has nootropics added to it. So you can get that coconut oil, almond butter, maca root, and stevia in the Nick the Tooth Coffee, and plenty more. How? Go to kimerakoffee.com, that’s k-i-m-e-r-a-k-o-f-f-e-e dot com, and you use 10% discount code Ben. Visit the website. They have tons more recipes on there too, in addition to the Nick the Tooth recipe, which is actually pretty good. Nutty and coconutty and testosterone infused.
Speaking of testosterone infused, there is an herb, it’s called ashwagandha. It’s been shown in research to not just decrease cortisol, but also to increase testosterone. It’s one of these adaptogenic type of herbs, and this podcast is not only brought to you by Kimera Koffee, but it’s also brought to you by a special, gently dried green juice that has ashwagandha in it, among a host of other ingredients including some of my favorites like turmeric and coconut. So a lot of green juice powders are heat dried, this stuff isn’t. It’s gluten free, soy free, it’s vegan, and, better yet, you don’t need a juicer. Doesn’t make a mess. So you can get your hands on this stuff if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife, and when you go there, use discount code Ben, once again. I’m making this easy for you. All the discount codes are Ben. That’ll get you 20% off.
And then, finally, this podcast is brought to you, and don’t press fast forward yet, ’cause I do have something else I wanna tell you before we jump in to the podcast, is brought to you by cricket protein powder. Yes, bugs. I’m into bugs. I’ve been eating black ants, I’ve been eating whole roasted crickets, but if you don’t want the antenna, and the legs, and you don’t wanna be picking little cricket parts out of your teeth, like I’ve had to do lately when I’ve been making my cricket stir fry, you can get delicious cricket protein powder bars. They’re made by this company called E-X-O, E-X-O. So they have tons of different flavors. One of my favorites are, pretty much any of my favorites are, the ones that have almond butter or peanut butter added to them. It’s an incredibly sustainable source of protein.
I would recommend that you check out, how ’bout their banana bread? Their banana bread which actually doesn’t have an almond butter base, it has a sunflower seed butter base, but you will love this stuff, and you get discount on it. How? You go to the EXO Protein website, which is at exoprotein.com, but you tag little bit on the end there, exoprotein.com/ben. That’ll will give ya’ a sampler pack with all their most popular flavors, for less than 10 bucks, they throw in free shipping. That gets you a 33% discount and these things will sell out. They sell out all the time. So grab ’em while inventory last. That’s E-X-O protein dot com slash Ben.
And then, finally, after I recorded today’s podcast with my super interesting guest, Aron Snyder, he sent me a discount code you can use on his website for backpacks, stoves, sleep systems, hunting gear, outdoors gear, they have a ton of the best gear on the face of the planet. They try everything hard in the trenches, in the mountains. So it’s kifaru.net. You go to kifaru.net, Aron’s website, and the discount code is BGF15, saves you 15% off of anything there. So check that out too, and I’ll put all the stuff in the show notes for ya’. So that being said, let’s move on to today’s podcast with the great Aron Snyder.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“It’s just when you live in the woods a couple hundred days a year, you’re gonna fall in a river from time to time. You’re going to be forced to put your body through things that they’re not used to.” “Survival is a perishable skill, other than the will to live that’s ingrained in people, or it’s not. A lot of these skills, obviously, I practice whether any to or not now, which is why it’s pretty hard for me to get too worried about any survival situation.” “It is an art form to be able to take someone’s body from a perspective of where you’re at, you can take someone and form them with dedication and hard work into who they want to be.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks. It’s Ben Greenfield here, and my guest today is a guy named Aron Snyder. You may have heard of Aron before. He’s actually a frequent guest on one of the top-ranked outdoors podcasts in iTunes called The Gritty Bowmen, and Aron is actually a man of quite a few hats. He’s a former military man, a search-and-rescue team member, former M.M.A. fighter. He’s the current knowledge guru at an outdoors gear company, which is actually how I met him, an outdoors gear company called Kifaru, and they make things like packs, and tents, and things that allow you to survive in the back country.
And Aron has a pretty cool approach because he’s not only super fit and takes his physical training pretty seriously, and you’ll get a chance to dig into what he does for his own physical regimen during today’s podcast episode, but he also helps men and women all over the globe get ready for everything from wilderness survival, to epic backpacking trips, to some of the most difficult hunts on the face of the planet. So he really knows his way around the outdoors.
He’s also a photographer, he’s a freelance writer, he’s a pretty hardcore, tough guy who knows a lot about how to make a backpack fit right, which I’ve had to talk with him quite a bit about in my own Train To Hunt competing. He knows a lot about surviving in harsh conditions. He knows how to take some pretty epic photographs of nature, how to hunt big animals, and a lot more. He’s one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable guys you’re ever going to meet when it comes to everything outdoors. So, Aron, welcome to the show.
Aron: Thanks, I appreciate it. I’m happy to be on here. You may have made me sound a little bit better, or a lot better than I actually am.
Ben: No worries, man. I know you had the video turned on before we actually started recording today’s episode, and it did appear that you’re actually drinking pink Kool-Aid. So I do know you have a feminine side as well.
Aron: My daughter, she’s a Kool-Aid drinker, I join in with her.
Ben: Mhmm. Got it. Although you admitted it, what was it? Some kind of a protein concoction or something like that?
Aron: Yeah, recovery drink. You know how that goes. Yup.
Ben: So why were you drinking a recovery drink this time of the morning?
Aron: We did like a six mile loop with an insane amount of weight last night in preparation for a race we have coming up and, where I’m at here with Red Rocks being here, we’re very, very blessed being able to beat our bodies up with some extreme training areas, Red Rocks being probably number one for just a killer. And we did three miles and then we did loops around Red Rocks Amphitheater, the bleachers.
Ben: And that’s in Colorado, right?
Aron: Yep, in Colorado. We’re in Wheat Ridge, Kifaru International’s in Wheat Ridge, but Red Rocks is just down the road, it’s right by my house, and it’s a good place, if you wanna feel, like go in the pain cave for a couple hours, throw 50 pounds, 60 pounds on your back, climb up the bleachers, you’ll pain cave quick.
Ben: Is that what you guys were doing? 50, 60 pound pack racing, basically?
Aron: We had 65 pounds. We wanted to stay, we tried to stay at a four mile per hour pace, give or take, until we get to the bleachers or the stairs, then that was obviously, we just tried, you know, literally make it to the top without stopping. No set pace other than, obviously, we’re men and we’re competitive. The guys that do this, it’s mostly men, and so no one wants to be the last dude up. So the only pace being set is the guy in front. There’s not actually, technically time to pace, but get a bunch of guys together, you’re probably going to end up, you know, passing out trying to stay in the front.
Ben: And what’s this race you’re training for?
Aron: That’s in Mountain Ops Kifaru, well, basically it’s going to be more of a road march. You’re in for five miles with 40 pounds, back out for five miles with 80, and then there’s archery, and a rifle competition the next day. It’s a buddy team event, and it was more catered towards what I did in the military, on the road march side with, you know, a little bit of a twist, obviously. But, for me, when you backpack hunt, you’re going in with relatively light weight. Obviously, the end goal is to put something on the ground and you’re coming out with heavy weight. So that’s why the whole five in, five out lightweight going in, and heavy weight coming out.
Ben: Is somebody just like at the other end, like putting an extra 40 pounds down that you guys put into your packs and return with?
Aron: Exactly. There’s weigh stations as well, just to check, obviously, you know, keep the honest people honest. There’s weigh stations in the middle as well at the end, and then, you know, the sandbags, it’s basically, it’s gonna be 40, and then you just drop another 40, and then your water weight does not count. The water weight is a be up and beyond the 40 and the 80 pound.
Ben: Gotcha. That’s sounds a little bit like the Train To Hunt nationals competition that they had in Colorado last year. I remember sucking wind during that thing ‘cause it was at elevation, but what they did was you had an obstacle course, and you were wearing about, I believe it was 40 or 50 pounds in your pack, during the obstacle course where you’d, you know, you’d do everything from burpees, to balancing on logs, to sandbag get ups with that weight on your back. And every time you’d get to a specific obstacle, you would have to shoot, right. You’d have to demonstrate that you could shoot while you were gassed, but then at the very end of that, you had your backpack waiting with 100 more pounds loaded on it, and there was like this mile and a half long crucible at the very end of the obstacle course where you just had to put on that pack and go as fast as possible to the finish line. So these kinda races are a ton of fun. I think they’re exploding in popularity. I don’t know what you’re seeing on your end, but it seems like folks are getting more and more into this whole like real world-esque competition that actually has some practical implications for things like backpacking and wilderness survival.
Aron: You know, I agree. And we’re definitely seeing it on our end, and like anything you get, you can get haters, right, people that you don’t need to be fit to hunt, or either way, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s always better. You’re always a better person if you’re more fit, or you are fit in general. It also gives a much better look at hunters. I mean, I’ve noticed anti-hunters or even people mid-road when they actually say, “Oh, these guys train,” and “These guys…”, I mean I guess the, for 100, you know, a lot of people look at this is blasting animals out the side of, out of a window, right, out of the side of the road, where, in my case, we’ll go for 8, 10, 12, 14 days at a time living off our back, and it takes a lot of physical and mental prep to be able to do that. And I think, the fitness aspect of hunting puts a whole new look on hunting in general and a much better look to me, and I think the changes, and these races, and everything are very good for the sport.
Ben: Oh, yeah. And obviously, it goes above and beyond hunting. Like I was recently in Kauai, Hawaii and we weren’t doing any hunting over there, but we were just tracking. You know, we had some days where we’d do 8 miles, we had some days we’d do 22 miles, and all of the skills that I’ve had to develop just learning how to say, you know pack a backpack right, which I actually wanna talk to you a little bit about in today’s podcast, and how, you know, how to fit a pack, how to pack a pack, and then how to go for long periods of time with everything from your boots to your pack set up properly. I mean that stuff comes in handy for everything from, you know, not just hunting, to just, seeing more of the world while you’re out there, and being able to go for longer periods of time without having to stop at a hotel or grocery store just ’cause you’re self-sustainable.
Aron: Right? You know, you’re right. And, I mean, it goes, like you say, it does go into much, much more than hunting, or even backpacking in general. And I think the, not to see a squirrel and go off on a tangent, the idea of a lot of people, including myself, it’s hard to break away from the, “Oh we’re on the way back from, you know, doing whatever. Let’s stop at the gas station and grab a protein bar,” or “Let’s go out to dinner,” where my lifestyle, and I’m sure as well as yours, prepping food, I carry an isobutane – a stove in my car, one, it saves money, but, two, is it that big of a deal for me to just heat up my food that I’ve pre-made and it’s free, than stop and eat a relatively unhealthy meal at a restaurant that I don’t know really what’s in it. I don’t know the sodium content, I don’t know what else has gone into that, where I’ve made my own food out of something I’ve harvested or killed is a healthier lifestyle in general that, like I said, not to go on a tangent, the United States is definitely getting away from.
Ben: Yeah. Totally. So, I’m curious about you. Like I actually have heard a few stories about you, Aron, that you used to lift big weights and be kind of like a gym rat. Is that true? Were you, and also, like I mentioned, an M.M.A. fighter. Like what’s your history? How, how’d you progress from, wherever you were back in the day, it sounds like you were quite the fitness nerd, into what you’re doing now? What’s your story?
Aron: Well, it’s kinda weird. I’m actually a fat kid. As far as you know, the ecto, endo, mesomorphic…
Ben: Deep down inside.
Aron: What’s that?
Ben: Deep down inside, you’re a fat kid?
Aron: My body type, out of the three, is definitely the kind that gains weight when you look at a cheeseburger. So I have to stay…
Ben: Yeah. The apple shape. The endomorph apple shape.
Aron: Exactly. I’m an endomorph.
Ben: The Jonah Hill.
Aron: You’re more of the Tarzan. (laughs) I’m definitely not the guy that can eat whatever I want, right. Super fast metabolism? So kind of a fat kid, and then I joined the military. I was in the military for a few years and, didn’t learn really anything about nutrition in the military. Most people don’t. But I did, it did make me tougher. This is the very short version of obviously my life.
When I got out of the military, I pretty much could eat anything I wanted when I was in the military. When I got out, I kept eating anything I wanted, but I wasn’t running 6 to 8 miles a day, and dude I got like fat, fat. I gained probably 260, 40, 42 inch waist, and somewhere in that time of the six months is all it took to gain that much weight. I kinda had one of those clarity moments of “what am I doing to myself” and just got super fit, stopped drinking soda, you know, basically just drink water, and started doing endurance races, whether it be mountain bike races, or the standard, you know, race across, whatever, the Olympic Peninsula, where I was using a lot of my training with land navigation, mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, all those things combined, and started really getting into learning the healthy lifestyle that you live.
And somewhere in the middle of that, I started dating a woman that, you know, more or less got me into this bodybuilding, powerlifting, strongman kick, ’cause normally I’m like 6’1″ and 210. I got up to about 270, I could bench press over 500 pounds.
Aron: I got super strong. I couldn’t walk up the side of a hill, but…
Ben: What kind of training were you doing? Was it like bodybuilding, or powerlifting, or…
Aron: A little bit of both. I mean, the only real difference between, at the root of it, a powerlifter and a bodybuilder is the diet. It’s the, their diet, they obviously both have a very large amount of muscle, not saying…
Ben: Well yeah, diet and then also just the style of training, right. Like more compound, multi-joint lifts for the powerlifter, whereas the bodybuilder, you know, you bomb your chest on one day, and then you bomb your biceps on another day, and it’s generally a bit more like body part focused.
Aron: From what I’ve seen, I agree with that 100%. From what I’ve seen is you can make, sometimes, you can turn one into the other and vice versa relatively quickly because of the lifestyle, the hard work, the dedication, obviously, the nutritional level. Now, not all powerlifters can be bodybuilders, and certainly not all bodybuilders can be powerlifters, but a lot of ’em crossover in some different ways, and I did both. I did a couple different bodybuilding competitions. I got more into powerlifting than anything ’cause I just had this thing to be freakishly strong. I had a goal to bench press over 500 pounds, and I did. And then, you know, I had also another goal where I wanted to, you know, the big three. I wanted to be, go over eighteen hundred pounds with squat, deadlift, and bench press, and I was able to do that. And that was with the, that was suited up, though. That was with the bench shirt. Everything was just cheating, but I did, I did do, I did bench 500 pounds, clean, no shirt, which was a big thing for me. But, you know, honest and upfront, I had some help from different supplementation that I probably shouldn’t have been taking. My body is not meant to be…
Ben: You mean like hormones?
Aron: I was, I mean, I was basically taking testosterone and anabolics at the same time.
Aron: Growth hormones didn’t really do much for what I was wanting to do. I would straight up, without giving you the whole seminar on steroids or in anabolics, but I was taking steroids basically just for strength. I didn’t do it very long. It was definitely something I wish I could take back ’cause I lost anything I gained. If I would’ve just eaten healthier and stayed in the gym, I probably would have, what I gained, I would have maintained, where, with steroids, when you get off, you lose all your naturally produced testosterone you end up losing…
Ben: Yeah. Did you find that you, ’cause I’ve talked to a lot of people who’ve taken, you know, andro and some other forms of testosterone, or steroidal precursors, and they’ve found that it takes like four to six months to even start to get your drive back and be able to produce your own endogenous testosterone. Did you have a dip like that after you got off it?
Aron: Oh, dude, it can be much worse than that. You can figure, I’m not a doctor, right, but I played one on T.V. last night, but I can tell you 100% if you are on test eight months, it will probably take you eight months to get back to your natural not, just your drive, but also your mind is in a different place, and I’m not saying you go crazy. It’s not as bad as what people make it out to be as far as, you know, super aggression, depending on about what you’re taking, you can get aggressive, but it does take a while for your hormones to level back out. In my case, if you’re okay with talking about this, I was taking 1200 milligrams of enanthate per week. Usually if, again I’m not an expert, if you take 1200 milligrams of enanthate or a testosterone, you wanna take somewhere in the neighborhood of 5, 6, 700 milligrams of an anabolic. If you take too much test, you become very lethargic. If you take too much anabolics, you become very emotional, you can get…
Ben: Yeah, you get a lot of a conversion into estrogens.
Aron: Yeah. Right, you get gynecomastia which is, how do you say, you develop women’s breasts…
Ben: Man boobs?
Aron: Yep. You get man boobs and you have to have surgery to have them taken away. So, anyway, taking what I was taking, my body, an endomorphic body with a lot of hard work responds extremely well to that. So I put on 40 pounds in four, five months. A lot of that was water weight, but I was able to lift, you know, 200 pound incline dumbbell bench, you know, three sets of 10 to 12 with no spotter. Freakish strength that most people just would never have. I mean, there’s one in a million people that are that strong naturally. Something I wish I hadn’t done, but that is how I got to the size you’ve probably heard about, where I was just a freak of nature.
Ben: Yeah. You know one of the crazy things about the testosterone enanthate is even though it’s banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency for sports and stuff like that, they’ve done studies and they found about half the people who take it don’t actually get up to the urinary levels. What WADA tests for is your T to E ratio, like your testosterone to epitestosterone ratio, and a ton of folks, seems like about half the population who takes testosterone enanthate, they get all this muscular strength and power that you just talked about, but they actually don’t test positive under the, at least the current WADA T to E ratio criteria. So there’s a ton of people who dope with this stuff and get away with it for competition, you know, and obviously if you’re not competing, then there’s no real ethical concerns whatsoever, but it’s interesting stuff. And then, you know, like you say, there’s always that bounce back where, once you get off it, life kinda sucks for a while, right?
Aron: It does. I mean, in my case like I don’t know. I’ve never been on your podcast, how open you are about these things, so if I cross the line…
Ben: We’re pretty open. We talk about shoving stuff up your butt and doing enemas, so we can talk about testosterone.
Aron: Perfect. Okay. So, when I was taking test, I was also taking, like I said, an anabolic which you want to be at a ratio about half of an anabolic to whenever you’re taking a test, but I am a dummy, and I wasn’t paying attention, and I ended up taking more anabolics than I probably should have. And, when you do that, your drive goes to nothing. I mean, basically I didn’t get like an erection for three months, which is very common for guys taking steroids and…
Ben: Do you mean, like, not to get too explicit, but I mean do you mean like at all? You just didn’t get an erection period?
Aron: Not at all. I couldn’t even punch my clown. Like nothing. No drive. It didn’t work. Like, and here I am, you know, what I mean like super just, you know, shredded.
Ben: So you’re not talking about just like a lack of morning wood? You’re talking about like complete impotence?
Aron: Oh, yeah. Nothing and I, you know, in my case, like for me, I, you know, here I am, shredded, chicks all over in the gym. You know that scene. You can go to like meat wagon gyms and didn’t really matter, right. Nothing worked correctly. So, I, that was from deca, was what did that, and there’s something, I don’t know if you allow foul language on your podcast, you can edit it out, I guess, but they call it deca (beep), which is basically when your, it just gives you, no, all total loss of not only drive, but also the function, correct. So, nothing. And that happens frequently. Well, I was also taking another supplement that I took for about a month. It’s very, very hard on your liver and your kidneys, and it gives you superhuman strength, superhuman sex drive, aggression. Everything you are internally makes it 10 times more, right. It’s just insane.
Ben: Which one is that?
Aron: That is, oh good lord. Now you asked me, I forgot. It’s, oh man, you can make it at your house. Can we come back to that when can I remember?
Aron: You don’t, you definitely, one of my buddies literally died. We had to revive him from it ’cause his liver failed from taking, or his kidneys failed from taking it, but it’s just my body did not handle it well. I had aggression problems when I took it. So the moral of the story is, you know, don’t take steroids illegally because you’re probably, one, gonna do it wrong, and, two, it may have long term effects on your body. At this point with me, everything’s fine. I haven’t had any issues in 10 years. My joints on my elbows are a little bit sore from just, you’re not built to curl 80 to 100 pound dumbbell curls.
Ben: Oh, yeah.
Aron: Like, allow you to do that.
Ben: Yeah. That’s why a lot of like former steroids users there are now turning to things like, well there’s this one newer form of supplement called peptides that, they’ve shown in rats, can help to heal connective tissue, literally as good as surgery, but then a lot of folks are doing like stem cell implants, or some cell injections, platelet-rich plasma injections, prolotherapy, there’s this process called Regenokine that some people are doing. But, yeah, you find that the folks who have been on testosterone or some form of hormones because it, like you say, it allows your body to be able to lift more weights than your joints would technically be able to handle under normal circumstances and yeah, you get some wear and tear long term.
Aron: Oh, yeah. For sure. And I’ve been pretty lucky especially with, I don’t even hardly lift legs now, I just, you know, for my training I don’t need to, but, you know, my legs blew up to size-wise like I had 18 inch calf’s and, that, you know, calf muscle wise, yeah, it’s really cool having calf muscles like I have, but it takes a lot of oxygen on the mountains. The more muscle you have, the more oxygen you need. So once I started getting back into backpack hunting, which I had always done, this was just like one of those spots in my life where, I don’t know, what, early life crisis.
Well, it really affected backpack hunting, so then I started focusing on maintaining, you know, dense muscle mass, but losing everything I didn’t need, which, you really need a guy at your level to coach you along through that because learning it on your own through trial and error is a pain in the butt, for one, and, two, you’re probably going to get it wrong, you know, if you do try it. So trenbolone was the name of that I was talking about.
Aron: Yeah. Very hard on your system. But either way, I started focusing on, I train my, I changed my workout routine completely. You know, I changed everything in my life, really, and in the middle of that I did do a little bit of fighting. It’s amazing. I don’t ever talk about that, so obviously how that pops up has to be YouTube videos or something. It’s not like I’m ashamed of it or whatever…
Ben: I think it was a bio of you somewhere on the internet. It’s…
Aron: Oh, gotcha.
Ben: It may have been. You, I know you’ve got a lot of articles on this, pretty cool outdoors form called rock slide, and it may have been over on your rock slide bio that I saw, but go ahead. So you were fighting.
Aron: Yeah, I fought a lot of illegal fights. To be honest with you, I was going through a divorce and I needed the money. I’m certainly no, you know, whatever, Royce Gracie, but I was always, as a kid, I liked to fight, and I still do today. I just, I don’t get into it as much for injury reasons, not to be a weenie, but when you make your living in the outdoor industry and you’re constantly, something’s pulled or torn, and you can’t go scouting, you can’t backpack in to take photos for, you know, for Kifaru. So I stopped completely about four or five years ago, I guess, to where seven, eight, years ago, I was going at it full time, you know, frequently.
Aron: I don’t, by no means am I…
Ben: What were you, were you at jiu-jitsu, or were you doing striking, or what was your…?
Aron: Jiu-jitsu’s my thing. If the fight lasted more than 60 seconds on my feet, something had gone terribly wrong with the game plan. I do not have overly fast hands. I have powerful hands, but not very fast. I wrestled some in high school. I’ve taken jiu-jitsu and other variations and forms of that off and on my entire life. So it was, you know, something I like to do, just like anything, some guys fly fish, some guys golf, some guys fight. I keep it as simple as that. Some people put way more into in it than they should. But the way I was raised in a very small town in Oregon, fighting was normal. I mean that’s how you, a guy walks into a bar, the first thing your thinking is, “Can I take that guy? I can take that guy,” and I’d always, I was just raised that way. Not saying it’s the right way to be raised, but even now, especially with the military background and everything else I had done, you kind of assess the situation when you walk into a building, you kinda look around and size everyone up. I’ve always just been that way and I still am today.
Ben: Yeah. I hear what you’re saying though in terms of it being risky as far as taking time off your life. Like I actually have a broken eye right now because I’m training for a fight in July and got my entire orbital bone fractured, right. Like if I blow my nose right now, my entire right eye will swell completely shut because there’s a complete fracture between my nasal sinuses and the orbit of my eye.
And, for me, you know, just getting hit that way, and that was just sparring, all of a sudden it limits just about everything that you can do, right. Like I’ve had to cancel some of my little diving trips I was gonna go on, and I’ve got to do only certain forms of working out, and, yeah, like full respect to these guys who can fight full time, or be able to step into the ring at any point, or, you know, even go do some of these amateur fights, but it’s, I mean, it’s hard to actually stay in shape for a fight and be able to, like you say, you know, live life and do some of these other pursuits that you wanna do. So you wound up losing weight just by doing a lot of hiking and rocking?
Aron: Yeah, I mean, basically I did the Cross Fit thing a little bit. I, you know, I kind of, you walk your own path, right. You write your own book. I kinda learned my book on the way, learning, yeah, I didn’t really have anyone to help me, in the, not to pimp you out, but in the case of someone like you, if I would have had the option to call someone that I knew and trusted, it would have simplified things, but I broke it down to a basic, kind of animalistic, “I am on my feet, I am hunting, I need to train with a pack on my back, that’s what I do.” I also, obviously, you know, chicks dig big arms and a big chest. I want to maintain a decent look as much as I can.
So I dropped, no more heavy weights, a lot higher reps, a lot more super setting, and I kinda did the backpacking for, I don’t like to run. So I backpack for my cardio, I always have a pack on is what I’m getting at, between 25 and 80 pounds, depending upon what we’re doing, and anywhere from one mile, you know 37 to 45 degrees straight up the side of a mountain, or 6, 8, 10, 12 mile loops, whatever the case may be. I vary it just like it would be varied on the side of a mountain. And then in the gym, I do a lot of, I do abs, I do pull-ups, I do push-ups, light reps with weight, things like that. A lot of rope climb, stuff that’s basically, you know, I don’t do really Olympic lifts anymore. There’s nothing wrong with those, I just don’t do those.
I pretty much do a workout that I could do in my living room. I do go to, I belong to a couple gyms, but I’ve tried to simplify it to where, no matter what I do, I can always stay fit no matter what. And gyms are great, there’s, I’m not, I love going to the gym. I just wanna make sure that I’ve got a pack on, I go up the stairs at Red Rocks, I’ll knock out 40, 50 push ups with my pack, I’ll knock out some abs, I’ll stand back up, and then I hit the stairs again, and I’ve simplified it a lot compared to, you know, in case of you, know how geeked up you can be. To be at a certain level, you have to, it’s an art, in my opinion. Fitness can become, not just looking good, but the knowledge base, the nutritional aspect of it, it is an art form to be able to take someone’s body from a perspective of where you’re at. You can take someone and form them, with dedication and hard work, into who they want to be. And I didn’t have someone to help me, so it took a lot longer and it was a lot more difficult, but you can do it and I’m proof. I went from normal guy in the military, to, you know, super fat guy, to super skinny guy, to really giant huge dude, to back to normal, you know, above average fitness level, obviously. But with hard work, you can do whatever you want.
Ben: Yeah. I hear you. You know, I don’t know if you knew this, but I wound up doing a huge amount of exercise-based fasting, where I’d go out and do long endurance workouts without eating anything. Like highly catabolic because I used to be 210, and right now I weigh 175, but I was a bodybuilder back in college before I got into triathlon, and that was the way that I did it. That’s not the healthy way to do it. If I could go back and do it over again, I woulda’ done it more slowly, I woulda’ taken like a lot of like, have you heard of amino acids before? Like essential amino acids or branched chain amino acids?
Aron: Yeah. I take ’em every day.
Ben: Yeah. So they allow you to stay anabolic without dumping a bunch of calories into your body, but you don’t get all the immune system issues and the joint issues from just doing like long, fasted workouts ’cause there’s, you know, there’s thyroid implications, and testosterone implications, but, yeah. I wound up stripping a lot of weight off my own body and definitely did it the wrong way. You know, I think that in an era now where there’s like amino acids, like I mentioned, and exogenous ketones that you can take, and all these cool things that allow you to maintain energy levels without getting all the hormonal balance back of complete exercise-based fasting, you can get, you know, light for the mountains, light for backpacking, light for hunting, stuff like that without necessarily doing a lot of damage to your body. We could probably do a whole podcast on that, but I actually, you know, I know that there’s so many things we could talk about, Aron, but I know that you’ve lived a pretty cool life out in the mountains and outdoors, so if you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you a few questions about some of the stuff that you’ve done outdoors.
Aron: Yeah, yeah. Definitely.
Ben: So outdoor photography, and hunting, and backpacking. What’s the craziest situation you’ve ever found yourself in? ‘Cause I know you’ve been all over the place.
Aron: Ah, that’s a tough one. And I’ve thought about this in case you ask me, I think one of the reasons it’s so tough is when you’re out there so long, the glass is very difficult to fill. Where one man’s life threatening, you know, circumstance could be another one’s fun time. So I don’t really have an exact super dangerous, we had a bear charge us, a grizzly, once. That, you know, that you could, have trouble fitting a greased flax seed through my ass with a hammer. It was definitely one of those hair raising experiences, but we’ve, I’ve been stuck in so many situations where, you know, freezing cold, shivering, away from camp, what-do-you-do-type circumstances where a lot of people, it was this huge thing, where, now, for me, it happens so often that those things just happen, you know. It’s not like you didn’t prep enough, or it’s not like you did something stupid, it’s just when you live in the woods a couple hundred days a year, you’re going to get, you’re gonna fall in a river from time to time.
You’re going to be forced to put your body through things that they’re not used to, and I fell in a river a couple years ago, solo, and drifted down the river, I don’t know, long ways. And, luckily enough, I dropped, I unclipped my pack on the way, just, obviously, so I didn’t die, freezing at, freezing cold, you know. There was ice in the river, had to go find my pack, and, literally, at that point, everything was pretty much wet and I was forced to build a fire, strip down naked, built the heat wall that, you know, you’ll see in movies sometimes and people don’t know what they’re doing. Pulled out kind of a tarp to get around me to bounce the heat off as well as the rock wall, and it was at a point where I was like, you know, in the first 10 minutes I thought, “Man, am I gonna freeze to death?” And the next 10 minutes I’m like, “Wooh, I’m nice and toasty by this fire,” type of a thing.
Ben: So you’re building a fire by a rock wall to use the rock wall as like a radiator?
Aron: Basically, rock wall was radiator on one side, my tarp is the radiator on the other, and becomes just a nice, little, happy home where the heat is radiating off everything towards your body. Something you learn in survival school, and something you don’t, you generally need to apply very often. That was one instance. I (beep) out a kidney stone.
Ben: How’d you fall into a river in the first place?
Aron: Crossing a log.
Ben: Oh, okay.
Aron: You know, a river swells up in the spring time and…
Aron: There’s not gonna be any ways to cross it. I picked the one log I thought I could make it, and I didn’t. So, you know, and, obviously, any time there’s an accident, there’s generally, it’s not an accident. There were several red flags that popped up before you’re about to do something stupid, in this case I probably should’ve just not crossed it, but I did. And one of the other times, I pissed a kidney stone out, like six miles in on a solo trip.
Ben: Oh, jeez.
Aron: That one was pretty rough. You know, like I said, the glass is a lot harder for me to fill any more. You don’t, nothing really raises the eyebrow for me.
Ben: Have you ever heard of this guy named Wim Hof who does like special breathing techniques to warm his body from the inside out?
Aron: So Brian talked to me, so every morning now, I’m taking a five minute ice cold shower because of Wim Hof. But, yeah… (laughs)
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. I teach my kids the Wim Hof breathing technique, we have a cold pool outside. Like a cold pool for cold water immersion and I take them out there, and we do the, you know, like the rapid (breathes rapidly), or we’ll do the deep breathing in and out until the fingers get tingly, you know, for anywhere from two to five minutes, and I’ll have ’em get in the pool and stay in the pool for five to ten minutes. And last week, we were actually up, River and Terran, my boys, we were beaver trapping in B.C., and Terran fell through the ice, and just instinctively, as soon as he fell through the ice, and I pulled him out, he started doing this Wim Hof style breathing, just standing on the shore, trying to warm his body up, just that deep diaphragmatic breathing. So it was kinda cool to see it actually flushed out and in a semi-survival situation, but I was curious if you’d ever heard of Wim Hof and it sounds like you actually have done some of his stuff.
Aron: Yep. Wake up in the morning ‘cause of him.
Ben: Nice cool. So, oh! Go ahead!
Aron: No, no, I was just gonna say I think that, when we talk about this, Ryan and I do all the time, a lot of the things that we’re talking about, and I try to stay up on, kinda like math, survival is perishable skill, other than the will to live, that’s ingrained in people or it’s not. A lot of these skills, obviously, I practice whether I need to or not now, which is why it’s pretty hard for me to get too worried about any survival situation.
Ben: Yeah. So another kind of survival-based topic I wanna talk to you about, ’cause I know you’re a real expert on this, you work at Kifaru, and Kifaru makes a ton of stuff. I know you guys make everything from a lightweight backpacking gear, to the same packs that I use. I’ve been using your packs for a year and a half now, especially for these Train to Hunt competitions that I do, and now just, everywhere I go, you know, when I’m traveling to speak at a conference or to backpack, I’m wearing these big, you know, 7,000+ cubic inch packs that you have, and one of the things is you can put a lot of weight in them. Obviously, you can put 100, 150 pounds in one of these packs, but I’m curious, for folks listening in, who want to know how to get as much weight as possible into a pack, and be able to have it comfortably sit on their back, or at least as comfortably as you can have something like that sit on your back for as long a period of time, what are some your top tips to get a pack to fit really well?
Aron: So there’s two things there. One is gonna be loading the pack, and then obviously one is going to be, you know, the pack fitting correctly. So cover loading the pack first. That’s the simplest, when you load the pack you want your lightest weight material at the bottom of the pack, and roughly the first third of that is going to be lightweight for material from bottom going up. After that, the heaviest is going to go in the middle third right up against your back. It’s close to your back as you possibly can. In the case of my hunting partner Colton and I last year, he’d shot a bull, we both had about 180 pounds in our packs and, believe or not, for eight miles.
Ben: That’s heavy.
Aron: Now, it was bad. But, physically, we went hunting two days later. We took, you know, we were able to do that because other than the normal soreness you’re going to get, we didn’t have, the packs were fitted correctly. They were loaded correctly. So we didn’t have the muscle knots you would get from an incorrect load pulling on one shoulder, for simplification terms pulling on one shoulder more than another, or giving you more pressure on one portion of your body or another. With loading the lightest in the middle, or in the bottom, and the heaviest in the middle, and then dispersing everything else throughout, wherever you can fit it, and then equaling that load so the center of gravity keeps you basically able to stand vertically, or as vertical as possible, and also not tilted to the left or the right, you don’t get trigger points or muscle knots. That allows you, your body to not pull against one portion pulling against another, which is hugely vital and people don’t understand that your body is a tool, and all tools need to be cared for for longevity, or a car engine.
If you misload a vehicle to where all the weight is on the right side, and you drive that around for eight hundred miles, your tires are going to wear unevenly bald. Human body is no different. If you don’t keep that even, distributed correctly left and right, top to bottom, front to back, you are going to cause, not long term, well, I guess it could be long term damage on your body, but very short term damage to where you may not recover for a couple of weeks, right. You’re gonna have to see a chiropractor, you’re gonna go need to see a massage therapist, and, in some ways, it can cause long term issues, especially if you’re thrown off balance. So the load being distributed correctly is huge.
Ben: So a lot of these nicer backpacks, right, they have a waist pad and a shoulder straps, now what about the shoulder straps? How should you have the weight distributed as far as the difference between the waist strap and the shoulder straps when you’re carrying a heavy weight?
Aron: Textbook answer is 65 to 70% on your waist and, obviously the rest on your shoulders. In my case, I run almost 90% on my hips, my very strong hips. It doesn’t bother me, Like a 10%, 15% is gonna be on my shoulders. But you want the majority of that weight be on your hip bones just because of how the human body works. Certain body parts fatigue faster than others, in the case of a human body, the shoulders fatigue much faster than your hips, or going toward your legs. And that’s the key when talking about pack fitting, there’s all kinds of terms guys talk about, load lifters, different types of waist belts, things like that. I’ll kinda break ’em down. Try to oversimplify it as much as I can.
A load lifter is a strap attached to your shoulder straps that hooks from your shoulder strap to the top of your frame, or somewhere on the frame. Doesn’t technically lift anything other than your shoulder straps up off of your shoulders, which then transfers the weight down to your hip bones. Once that happens, it allows you to basically choose the amount of weight you want to carry on what part of your body. If the frame or the suspension that you have on your backpack, if it’s a day pack, it doesn’t matter, but on the load hauling pack, or if you’re five to seven day trip type of a pack, if the top of your frame isn’t above your shoulders, when you pull on that load lifter it’s not really a load lifter, it’s a load stabilizer. And so, you need the top of your frame to be two or three inches above your shoulders, so that way no matter what weight you get in there and the pack sags a little, when you pull on those load lifters, it’s in an upward angle of roughly 15 to 35, 40 degrees.
Aron: That transfers the shoulder straps upwards, and then now the weight is transferred down to your hip bones. Most people don’t understand that in a backpack where you buy, I won’t mention any brands or companies or whatever, when you buy a backpack it may be extremely durable, but it won’t be extremely comfortable because if you’re, in your case, what are you 6’4″?
Ben: I’m 6’3″.
Aron: 6’3″. If you’re 6’3″, there is not a pack in R.E.I., Sportsman’s Warehouse, or Cabela’s that is gonna fit your body which you probably experienced. Meaning, be able to carry the weight on your hips.
Aron: So it’s vitally important to have a frame and suspension that are actually fitted correctly to each person.
Ben: Got it. Okay. Cool. So it sounds like what it comes down to is you gotta have your waist pad, or the part where the belt that goes around your waist, you have to have that about midsection of your hips so that load sits high enough up to where when you pull your load lifting straps, the actual top of the backpack is a little bit above your shoulders, and then you also need to ensure that, like you mentioned earlier, the lighter part of your load is distributed lower in that backpack with the heavier part in the middle so that you’re not putting as much stress on your lumbar spine, and you’re more kinda distributing the weight like up around, like your thoracic mid-spine area?
Aron: Right. Yeah. Exactly. Well, you pretty much, how you explained it is correct, and if you don’t, I wouldn’t say for lack of a better explanation, if any of those don’t work or coincide with another, meaning, let’s say you have a really tall frame, but your waist belt sucks and it doesn’t stay on your hip bones, vice versa, they all have to coincide with each other. They work as a team, basically. If there’s one of those parts that’s screwed up, they’re not gonna work. It’s not gonna, none of this will work, I guess that we’re talking…
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Hey, and a quick question, not to put you on the spot too much, but your guys’ packs are expensive. I mean, compared to like R.E.I., or Cabela’s, or something like that, I mean, you know, I think I paid north of like, you know, 600, 700 bucks for the pack. What is it about a pack that would make it that expensive? Like what do you do into a pack to actually cause it to cost that much?
Aron: Number one is we’re 100% made in America, and not made in America with Asian components, which is something that I’ve noticed in the industry today. They’ll put that big “Made in America” stamp, but it’s all with Asian components. Our buckles, our webbing, all the thread, the needles were inspected. It is all made in America, with obviously American labor in the building I’m sitting in right now. There’s a price tag that goes along with that, compared to exporting things to China where they make like 3 bucks an hour, or whatever it is, we pay a very good rate here. All made in America, American MIL-SPEC components are generally more expensive than an Asian type of a component just because they’re more durable, they last longer. There’s a testing process through all of the different components we use from the government to meet a spec which, like throwing it out of a Blackhawk and different things the military tests, our components meet those specs. There, that is the major reason for the price. American made here, all American components.
The other thing after that, really, is you’re paying for comfort. You’re paying for the versatility of our packs, as you’ve noticed, we have almost too many options, it’s confusing. A pack from ten years ago will fit on a frame that we’ve just introduced six months ago. We try to make sure, obviously, we don’t ever screw our customer base. We wanna make sure you can use our pack for the rest of your life. So if you have a bag or a frame from ten years ago, our current products will fit on that.
Ben: So you could just slide it off whatever frame is already fit to your body, and put a different bag on, basically?
Aron: Exactly. With the frame system, we offer several different frames, but you can interchange the bags. So in the case of like with what I do, I have kind of a shed-hunting-photography-scouting type bag. Obviously I get ’em all free. I run the company. But if I want to go on a 14 day sheep hunt, I can pop my day hunt photography pack off and pop the 8,000 cubic inch bag, much like you have, and go on a sheep hunt with the same frame, and it’s still custom-fitted to me. Everything’s precise. Nothing needs to be changed. I’m just putting a different bag on.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay.
Aron: We also have a lot of options, you know, as far as pockets to attach to, to where you can really cater that to each person, and there’s a lot of R&D that goes into that. A lot of people know a lot of the reason I’m in the field all the time that who I cut my teeth under is Patrick Smith, that’s his name. He owns Kifaru. He started Mountain Smith in the 70s, the backpack company Mountain Smith. He’s taught me so much about the industry, but he’s ingrained several things into me. Obviously comfort is important, things like that, but testing, it’s mandatory for me, in the position I’m in at Kifaru, to be in the field a minimum of 100 nights a year for testing. He basically comes out and cracks me in the back of the head and yells at me when I’m not in the field enough. That’s the kind of company we are where we don’t wanna design it and test it in a building. We want to design it in the field, produce that design in a building, and then I head right back out. Like I’m leaving tomorrow to test a shelter.
Aron: I’m gonna set it up for five days…
Ben: Which is why every time I try to get a hold of you, you’re out in the mountains somewhere.
Aron: Pretty much, yeah. Exactly.
Ben: Yeah. You’re always like, “Text me next week, Ben. I’m on some 14-day epic trip out in the middle of nowhere with satellite phone access only.”
Aron: Right. [0:52:31] ______.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. So that leads me to another question I wanna ask you, Aron. Oh, and by the way, for those of you listening in, not only am I gonna put a link to everything Aron and I talk about, from trenbolone supplementation, to The Gritty Bowmen podcast, to these Train to Hunt competitions, to everything else, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/aronsnyder, and Aron’s name is spelled A-R-O-N, Snyder, S-N-Y-D-E-R. bengreenfieldfitness.com/aronsnyder, but I’m also gonna give you guys a special link over to the Kifaru website, which is where I get all my packs, all my gear, and there’s gonna be a discount that you guys get, a pretty fat discount on Kifaru stuff if you wanna try some of the stuff for yourself. But speaking of these packs, Aron, for a multi-day pack, let’s say you were going out in the field for, let’s say a week. What would be the crucial components found in your pack? Like what would be the must-have items for you?
Aron: I would say that I’m trying to pull up my gear list here right now. I’ve got it so I don’t forget anything. So, for me, one of the crucial things, a Steripen, which is a water purification system which a lot of people are a little bit nervous about because it is a pin that just emits light out of it but it kills…
Ben: It’s called a Steripen?
Aron: Steripen. I carry a 32 ounce Nalgene bottle. I stop at a mud puddle or a creek, I fill it up, I put the pin in there, I swirl it around for sixty seconds, and it’s purified. Now I did a very in-depth testing with Outdoor Life where I was testing every purification system just about on the planet with water that had tested positive for Giardia, to see what purified, how many times, the whole nine yards, and the Steripen was the only thing that constantly never had an issue. Right, I carry a Steripen, and then I carry a backup water purification which is Aquamira. It’s drops. It’s like seven drops per quart.
Ben: Is that like iodine?
Aron: Kind of, same principle. Iodine, obviously, you can use. Pills or what iodine that most people use, it just tastes, Iodine tastes like crap. This doesn’t have a bad taste to it.
Aron: Same principle though. So I bring that as my backup, or my light weight. Sometimes I’ll use Aquatabs. Same principle. It’s a tablet. It just doesn’t leave the crappy taste in the water.
Aron: So that’s one very vital thing for me. And then, obviously, you know, depending upon the situation, optics are hugely important, but we’re not talking about optics probably as much as survival.
Ben: Yeah. Yeah. Like more the type of things that, you know, someone’s not, say hunting, what they need for survival.
Aron: So, obviously, the Steripen, my fire starting system which I use trioxane, and, you know, [0:55:36] ______ Native American where I’m building with a flint and steel, and a rock, or whatever, but trioxane you can buy at an army surplus store. It’s $0.89 a tablet. It’ll light in water, in the rain, it’ll light any time. I bring that with a flint and steel to start it. That’s something that I pretty much have on me, no matter what, all the time. I also bring…
Ben: Yeah. The trioxane, those are those little cubes, right? They’re like little, like fuel cubes? Like whitish type of cubes?
Aron: It’s a purple. That’s an Esbit cube you’re talking about, which also works. This is a purple-ish cube which burns at some insane rate. I’ve never gotten a fire started in any situation.
Ben: Yeah. I’ve never seen ’em before until I did this race called the Spartan Agoge in Vermont a few weeks ago, and it was 38 degrees below zero. One of the guys there had a bunch of these cubes with him and he dropped one on a fire we were making, and I’ve never seen something like that before. Like a fire go up that fast in that cold conditions. It was pretty amazing. So, you have these fire starter cubes. What else?
Aron: Ah, even though it’s not survival, the DeLorme inReach has been pretty vital, not only to my job, my marriage, and my relationship with my daughter, and everything else, but the DeLorme inReach, is a, for lack of a very technical explanation, it is like a hotspot that uses satellites where you can text from your cell phone through that inReach to whoever you want. So you don’t have to do like the you know, 70s style, A.B.C.D. type texting. You text through your cell phone just like normal, it goes straight, the text is sent through Iridium satellites which has the most satellites of any satellite communication system.
Ben: How much does something like that cost? One of those satellite phones?
Aron: Couple, now that’s not a satellite phone. I’ll go into that one in a sec. This is just for texting.
Ben: So you can’t call or anything, but you can pretty much text anybody on the face of the planet if you’re out in the middle of nowhere?
Aron: Right. And that compared to a satellite phone, which I also have an Iridium satellite phone, a text always goes out because it only needs that signal for a second, whereas the satellite phone, I’ve had a couple survival situations with hikers and I’ve run into that but we had some issues. It can be a 15 minute conversation, literally, 15 to 30 phone calls if you’re in a bad position, wherein a text message, it goes right through. Obviously, you know, because you’re talking on one just sending texts. So the DeLorme inReach has been hugely important for me. It’s been a great piece of kit, and I suggest really for everyone to get. It’s a couple hundred bucks for the actual unit, it might be 229, I can’t remember, and then you pay monthly, they have several different plans, but you pay a monthly fee. Or you can get unlimited which is what I’ve got and you just paid it off for the year. But, literally, for day to day use, if a tower goes down, if you’re out of service and you need to send, in the case with you, you’re a super busy guy, you need to send your assistant a message, that inReach is basically just a Bluetooth to your phone. You can send it at any time.
Ben: That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. But do you use a satellite phone as well? Or is that DeLorme inReach kinda like more of the one that you’d recommend as a crucial one, and then with the satellite phone being an option?
Aron: I would say that inReach, unless your wife is just, or husband is super (beep censored) all the time and wants to talk to you, the inReach gives you not like one in done texts, meaning full conversation texts. It always works, it’s less expensive. You know, my satellite phone was twelve hundred Dollars, and it’s 280 a minute after that, so it’s more cost effective than a satellite phone. But if I’m traveling to Mexico on a hunt, or if I’m going to the northwest territories, or wherever, I’ll have a satellite phone, and you can hook up several phones on the inReach. So somebody in the party will have an inReach and so we can all use it, and someone in the party will have a sat phone, so it works well, but most people should probably rent a sat phone and buy an inReach ’cause you can use the inReach year round, where with the sat phone, it’s probably a seven to ten day type of a deal. You can get ’em, I get my satellite phones and my minutes, stuff like that from Explorer Satellite Systems out of Florida.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So I know that were coming up on time, but we’ve covered water, we’ve covered fire, we’ve covered the pack obviously, we’ve covered a little bit of communication, obviously though, a big part of survival is also shelter. What do you carry in your pack as far as like a shelter system?
Aron: So, for the most part, and I test all of them, Kifaru International makes several shelters. We make ultralight backpackable stoves, and then we make ultralight tepees and shelters. They’re single wall, meaning there’s no floor on them, but you can put a wood stove in ’em that weighs 1 pound, 9 ounces. For me, for solo use, the Kifaru Super Tarp and the Mega Tarp are definitely my go to shelters, and I also carry an 18 inch Smith cylinder stove, which is a 1 pound, 9 ounce wood stove. People don’t realize what a game changer in bad weather an ultralight stove can be ’cause you can dry out your gear, which is huge, and obviously stay warm. You can get it 80 degrees inside of a Super Tarp, which is 11 feet long and 6 feet wide, in 15 minutes and maintain that heat by sticks that are laying outside.
Ben: So you’re using sticks as your fuel in the stove not gas?
Aron: Exactly, but it’s all self-sustainable and man packable. So, literally, you and I went in ten miles, we have a stove, a heat source for a 15-day hunt where we can dry our stuff out every day. We can heat our food up, we can heat our bodies up everyday, and, honestly, like I said, the stove’s 1 pound, 8 or 9 ounces and the shelter is 1 pound. Add some stakes to that and everything else, you’re pretty much taxed title and license at 3 pounds for a shelter with a wood stove in it. It is a game changer, especially if you’ve experienced some crappy weather conditions.
Ben: And then you combine that with a tarp and this is like, it’s not a tent, it’s just like a tarp that you set up, and that you can put that stove inside?
Aron: Exactly. And when I say tarp, it’s a tarp that actually forms into a tent. So you can pitch it flat, or you can pitch it as an A-frame with some vertical wall space with the pull outs, and it turns into something just like a tent that weighs 1 pound, and you can put a stove inside of it. So if I needed shade on the side of a mountain at 13,000 feet, [1:02:18] ______ mountain goats, I’ll pitch it flat to stay in the shade. If I need to bombproof stake it straight to the ground, throw in the wood stove, and weather the storm, which happened seriously at Colorado at 12,000 feet at 115, I’ll drop down in the tree line, pitch that thing, and I’m happy as a camper. You know how fire is, man. Fire is like, that’s ranger television. You basically are sitting there and there’s something about it that just ups the spirits tenfold when you have it.
Ben: That’s really cool. Okay. I’m taking notes furiously, and again, folks if you wanna check out the notes, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/aronsnyder, although I know that, probably, we’ve only tapped into a very, very small part of Aron’s brain when it comes to this stuff. Aron, there is one other question I wanted to ask you because I know you take a lot of really cool photography and obviously, a podcast is probably one of the crappiest venues in which to talk about photography because there’s no visuals whatsoever, but tell me about the photo that you’re most proud of and, if possible where people could go to see that photo, or a series of photos you’ve taken that you’d really like to showcase to folks.
Aron: So my Instagram page is the easiest, obviously, which is just Aron_Snyder, and that has a lot of my, but low resolution, obviously, it gets compressed, that has a lot of my cooler photos in it. The Gritty Bowmen Podcast, that you mentioned before, on his website, we’re actually selling my prints on there. We had such a demand for ’em.
Ben: Oh really?
Aron: Before I was just selling them to magazines, backpacker, whoever asked for ’em. Occasionally I would sell one to somebody on Facebook that just asked me if they could have the raw or edited image.
Ben: I’m looking at your Instagram posts, or Instagram page, right now. Some of these are pretty epic, but I’m curious, is the picture of that tarp with the stove pipe-ish thing sticking out of it is what you were just describing?
Aron: That’s it, right there. That’s my happy home, and that particular trip that we had three guys fall in a river, me being a weenie, and not fall in, I walked straight across, when we got to the camp everything was so, literally, the next morning boots, gear, everything was dry because of those heated shelters which, like I said is a game changer. Not that that was life or death, but we got to go fishing for three days and be happy and not frozen and cold, whereas if I would’ve had a normal tent, yeah, I wouldn’t have died, but I certainly wouldn’t have dry boots.
Ben: So what is the most amazing photo that you’ve ever taken or the one that you’re most proud of?
Aron: Man, that’s difficult.
Ben: That comes to mind.
Aron: Three of ’em. Derek O’Driscoll on the side of a mountain is the cover of the Kifaru catalog. Not just ’cause of a photo, while the photo is epic, but 13,000 feet, the trip, we both lost 16 pounds even consuming 3,600 calories a day, gain and losing 12,000 feet, that photo sums all that trip up in a split second for me, looking at or remembering the trip. The next one is a sheep. It’s a Fannin sheep, a mix between a Dall and a Stone sheep. The two hunters that harvested the sheep, the hunter did, the two hunters were coming from behind it, I’ve got the sheep real close up in the photo, and them as a shadow coming in the background. And then a shelter photo, a night shelter photo with the stars in the background lit up would be my third.
Ben: Do you have those on your Instagram page?
Aron: Yeah. They are. They’ll pop out as you’re scrolling down. I post too many photos…
Ben: Dude, yeah, I’m scrolling through your page right now. These are amazing. Wow. I don’t even know if I follow you on Instagram. I dunno why I wouldn’t ’cause we’ve known each other for a while. I knew you were a photographer, but I gotta add you man. This is a cool page. So folks, I’ll link to Aron’s Instagram page. Very cool. Very cool, man. I love it. I like that you’re out there not just surviving in the wilderness, not just hunting, but also collecting some amazing photo documentation of some very cool places I’m sure a lot of people have never been to. You live a cool life man.
Aron: That’s great for sure.
Ben: Yeah. Well folks, if you’ve got questions, or you have comments about some of the things that Aron and I talked about, if you want to hook up with Kifaru and try some of their stuff, if you want to leave a question for me or a question for Aron, you can access the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/aronsnyder, that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com slash A-R-O-N-S-N-Y-D-E-R. Aron is working on getting all of you a really cool discount on some of this Kifaru stuff too, like the tarps, and the stoves, and the packs, and stuff that he talked about. So, if you visit the show notes, I’ll make sure that I have those in there for you as well. And Aron, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing everything from how to get swole, to how to lose your erections, to how get fit for the wilderness.
Aron: We covered it all.
Ben: We covered it all, man. Thanks for coming on the show.
Aron: Oh, thanks for having me! It’s been a pleasure. Yeah. Anytime for sure.
Ben: Sweet. Yeah, we’ll definitely have to have you back. I can tell already. But in the meantime folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Aron Snyder from bengreenfieldfitness.com signing out. Have a healthy week.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting-edge fitness and performance advice.
Aron Snyder is a man of many hats and should be highly interesting to you if you are interested in the outdoors, weightlifting, backpacking, MMA or hunting.
As a former military man, search and rescue team member and MMA fighter, and the current knowledge guru at an outdoors gear company called “Kifaru” (use code “BGF15” for 15% off backpacks, rucks, sleeping bags and sleep systems, tents, stoves, sleds and anything else there – this code expires on Monday, May 25, 2016, but you can still mention this podcast for white-glove treatment from Kifaru!), he takes his physical training seriously and specializes in a real world approach that gets men and women prepared for everything from wilderness survival, to epic backpacking trips, to the most difficult hunts on the face of the planet.
He’s an outdoor photographer, freelance writer, and one extremely hardcore, tough guy who knows plenty about getting a heavy backpack to fit right, surviving in harsh conditions, taking epic nature pictures, hunting big animals, and much more.
When it comes to all things outdoors, Aron is one of the most entertaining, knowledgeable guys you’ll ever meet, and during our podcast discussion, you’ll discover:
-How Aron went from lifting big weights, taking steroids and being a gym rat to being a hunting guide and outdoors expert…
-The craziest situation Aron has ever found himself in during an outdoors expedition…
-How to get a heavy backpack to fit as comfortably as possible for as long a period of time…
-How Aron loaded his backpack to handle 180 pounds for 8 miles…
-How much of a backpack weight should be on the hip bones vs. the shoulders…
-Why some backpacks cost so much…
-What you would find in Aron’s ideal backpacking pack for a multi-day pack…
-How to start a fire in no time flat in the wilderness…
-Aron’s top water filtering and purification tactics…
-What kind of tarp and stove combination Aron carries…
-The most amazing photo Aron has ever taken…
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–The Kifaru website (use code “BGF15” for 15% off backpacks, rucks, sleeping bags and sleep systems, tents, stoves, sleds and anything else there – this code expires on Monday, May 25, 2016, but you can still mention this podcast for white-glove treatment from Kifaru! !)
-Kifaru Ultralight stove